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The Beatles thread

King Kamala

Integral Poster
Well, the remasters are coming out in two days and I figured now would be a good time to start an all purpose thread dedicated to The Beatles and their various solo projects. Even if it does mean I'm bumping my Little T and One Track Mike thread off Page One. Anybody planning on picking them up?

If all else fails, we can go back to Czech guessing people's favorite Beatles songs!
 

Czech

Integral Poster
I've read that a few of the remasters have been leaked, but I've yet to track them down (admittedly, I haven't tried all that hard). By all accounts, however, I've heard that these are mindblowing, especially in mono. The bass and drums reportedly sound more alive than ever, everything is lightyears ahead of the '87 reissues.

People have been talking about how the mono boxed set is already sold out and back-ordered for miles, because this is a "truer" remaster set than the stereo remasters. It's also more expensive. Now surely I can't be the one outsmarting the system here: why shouldn't I just buy (theoretically) the cheaper stereo remasters and then mix them back down to mono in Adobe Audition? Shouldn't that preserve the meticulous attention paid to the remastering while eliminating unwanted stereo separation, which would probably be a later step in the remastering process? Or are they just counting on the fact that despite the large number of diehard audiophiles who will be buying these boxed sets, they're also being purchased by diehard Beatlephiles who do not have access to professional audio editing programs like I do?

Anyway, here are some details on the process, if you didn't know by now and care to know:

The re-mastering process commenced with an extensive period conducting tests before finally copying the analogue master tapes into the digital medium. When this was completed, the transfer was achieved using a Pro Tools workstation operating at 24 bit 192 kHz resolution via a Prism A-D converter. Transferring was a lengthy procedure done a track at a time. Although EMI tape does not suffer the oxide loss associated with some later analogue tapes, there was nevertheless a slight build up of dust, which was removed from the tape machine heads between each title.

From the onset, considerable thought was given to what audio restorative processes were going to be allowed. It was agreed that electrical clicks, microphone vocal pops, excessive sibilance and bad edits should be improved where possible, so long as it didn't impact on the original integrity of the songs.

In addition, de-noising technology, which is often associated with re-mastering, was to be used, but subtly and sparingly. Eventually, less than five of the 525 minutes of Beatles music was subjected to this process. Finally, as is common with today's music, overall limiting - to increase the volume level of the CD - has been used, but on the stereo versions only. However, it was unanimously agreed that because of the importance of The Beatles' music, limiting would be used moderately, so as to retain the original dynamics of the recordings.

When all of the albums had been transferred, each song was then listened to several times to locate any of the agreed imperfections. These were then addressed by Guy Massey, working with Audio Restoration engineer Simon Gibson.

Mastering could now take place, once the earliest vinyl pressings, along with the existing CDs, were loaded into Pro Tools, thus allowing comparisons to be made with the original master tapes during the equalization process. When an album had been completed, it was auditioned the next day in studio three - a room familiar to the engineers, as all of the recent Beatles mixing projects had taken place in there - and any further alteration of EQ could be addressed back in the mastering room. Following the initial satisfaction of Guy and Steve, Allan Rouse and Mike Heatley then checked each new re-master in yet another location and offered any further suggestions. This continued until all 13 albums were completed to the team's satisfaction.

I was disappointed to read that in spite of all the attention paid to doing it the right way, they still had to concede to 21st century engineering trends and apply dynamic compression (boldface supplied). People like their music loud, but they don't care enough to do loud the right way, and admittedly, iPods and car stereos don't really allow for the kind of preamp/EQ/output fussing required to get ideal dynamic contrast. Loud is good, especially in rock, but "loud" doesn't mean anything without dynamic contrast. There's no loud without soft. It's like pitching: a 95-mph fastball can be effective, but an 88-mph fastball can be downright lethal if you mix it with a 76-mph change. Even though they insist that they use it sparingly, it's still hypocritical--if not antithetical--to a painstaking remastering effort to employ compression. And it's not as if this is some low-level slapdash money grab on the part of EMI, like the Radiohead special editions they've been rolling out. This is the fucking Beatles catalogue, made to sound better than it's ever sounded. They should've had the balls not to relent on the compression front. They most definitely did not lack the leverage.

God, this sounds so lame, even for me. And I assure you, though I try to put some effort into having quality sound, I'm not in the same universe as the real audiophiles. I don't even know what FLAC stands for.
 

HarleyQuinn

Laugh This Off... Puddin'!
Staff member
The thing that strikes me on top of that is that they did it only to the stereo version. That alone would make me buy the mono versions instead.

I love that there was an agreement to use it "moderately" due to the importance of the band and their music... why even bother?
 

Czech

Integral Poster
Before anyone tries to call me on it, yes, I know that limiting and compression are always a necessary part of the mastering process to some extent, and have been for some time. But there's compression and then there's compression, as in "a modern engineering trend that squashes dynamic contrast like a bug underfoot," and that they say it's "in an effort to keep up with today's music" makes it sound like it's more the latter than the former. Everything is phrased in such a way as to make it sound like they did so begrudgingly. They just shouldn't have done it, then. You shouldn't find yourself in the position of keeping up with Nickelback.

For our own good, we should cease audio discussion immediately and actually talk about music. It's so easy to get lost in the minutiae of it all that you stop seeing the forest for the trees and the whole experience becomes unenjoyable. I'm a moderate on this, as I noted above: I value this, but I can usually catch myself before I lose focus on what matters. To dismiss production and engineering out of hand is equally foolish, though these people don't get enough shit because they're approaching music from the critical orthodoxy of a non-musical background. The people who says none of this shit matters, lest they be accused of appreciating Steely Dan, are usually the kinds of dorks who would say things like "as far as I'm concerned, there are three eras of rock: the Beatles, the Strokes, and waiting for the Strokes."
 

BX

BX
I'm downloading some of the albums in advance of buying them Thursday, because I can't wait.
 

BUTT

Kreese
The holy trinity of rock is as follows : The Beatles, The Clash, and The Pixies. Period.
 

Byron The Bulb

Byron the bulb
The thing I'm looking forward to most is hearing a remastered "Maxwell's Silver Hammer." The hammer sound-effects are really tinny and unconvincing on the current version imo. Not at all what I'd expect a hammer striking human heads to sound like. I really hope that gets fixed.
 

Cheech

Integral Poster
I never thought that I'd find myself in a position to shell out $200+ to repurchase music I already own, on a dying format no less, but damn if I'm not thinking about swinging by Best Buy on my way home from work tomorrow. I just want to hold that shiny box in my hand; I'm convinced that it will solve all my worldly problems.
 

Incandenza

Integral Poster
You should do it, Cheech. Paul, Ringo, and the Estates of John and George need the money.

Sucks about the mono being box-only, as I would've cherry-picked a couple of the titles. I guess I'll download some, but I'm not in a hurry. I'm sure the stereo remasters are good enough, but mono reprocessed into stereo is and always will be for suckers.

Also, no way anything Chuck Klosterman has written can be called "brilliant." I'd click the link and take a read anyway, but I'd rather not experience a dramatic spike in my blood pressure this early in the morning.
 

Byron The Bulb

Byron the bulb
Pitchfork's spending the week reviewing all of these. I don't want to spoil anything for you guys, but a lot of them are getting 10.0s! :eek:
 

Mattdotcom

Integral Poster
Incandenza said:
Also, no way anything Chuck Klosterman has written can be called "brilliant." I'd click the link and take a read anyway, but I'd rather not experience a dramatic spike in my blood pressure this early in the morning.

I'm not familiar with the writer, but I just liked it as an alternative to all the aforementioned 10/10 reviews popping up everywhere. Really the only thing to not like about it is the abundance of easy "Paul is dead" jokes.
 

Kinetic

Kinetic
pbone said:
What the hell is buying music?

It's how the Beatles originally intended for you to hear these songs.

My one complaint about these Pitchfork reviews is that I wish they would highlight the differences between this set of reissues and the ones from 1987 a little more. I understand that they want to get reviews of all of these major releases into their archives, but everyone who's interested has either already heard these records or is at the very least aware of them, so a straight review is a little unnecessary and the abundance of 10.0 ratings is pretty predictable.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
Mattdotcom said:
Incandenza said:
Also, no way anything Chuck Klosterman has written can be called "brilliant." I'd click the link and take a read anyway, but I'd rather not experience a dramatic spike in my blood pressure this early in the morning.

I'm not familiar with the writer, but I just liked it as an alternative to all the aforementioned 10/10 reviews popping up everywhere. Really the only thing to not like about it is the abundance of easy "Paul is dead" jokes.

Mattdotcom, you better learn that Chuck Klosterman ain't liked 'round these parts or else you'll be frowned out of this folder pretty quickly!
 

Incandenza

Integral Poster
Kinetic said:
pbone said:
What the hell is buying music?

It's how the Beatles originally intended for you to hear these songs.

My one complaint about these Pitchfork reviews is that I wish they would highlight the differences between this set of reissues and the ones from 1987 a little more. I understand that they want to get reviews of all of these major releases into their archives, but everyone who's interested has either already heard these records or is at the very least aware of them, so a straight review is a little unnecessary and the abundance of 10.0 ratings is pretty predictable.

Just casually skimming various music-related Web sites and blogs, I've seen more than enough indignation that Pitchfork is undertaking reviewing these releases at all, much less applying arbitrary ratings. The Beatles's albums aren't sacrosanct, and I think it's possible to look at these records—which are taken for granted by so many—from a fresh perspective.

Of course, Pitchfork is basically treating them as holy by giving every album from Rubber Soul onward a 10.0. Only the most ardent Beatles apologist thinks Sgt. Pepper's is great.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
Even Let It Be got a 10.0? I'm a Beatles apologist and even I can't think of an argument to give that one anything higher than a 7.5 or so.

Fake edit--- No Let It Be review. They did review...Naked a few years back and gave it a 7.0, which may be slightly more generous than I'd give it. I see Magical Mystery Tour got a 10.0...really now, Pitchfork? Some great songs on that but it is what is---a slapshod soundtrack, albeit a pretty good one. Actually, I'd say it's better than Sgt. Pepper's, which is really the Beatles second worst album post Help!.
 

Mattdotcom

Integral Poster
King Kamala said:
Mattdotcom said:
Incandenza said:
Also, no way anything Chuck Klosterman has written can be called "brilliant." I'd click the link and take a read anyway, but I'd rather not experience a dramatic spike in my blood pressure this early in the morning.

I'm not familiar with the writer, but I just liked it as an alternative to all the aforementioned 10/10 reviews popping up everywhere. Really the only thing to not like about it is the abundance of easy "Paul is dead" jokes.

Mattdotcom, you better learn that Chuck Klosterman ain't liked 'round these parts or else you'll be frowned out of this folder pretty quickly!

Just looked him up. If I'd know he was a Trey Anastasio lookalike with a friendship with Bill Simmons, I would have dismissed him beforehand altogether.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
I like Klosterman and Bill Simmons but I've resigned myself to the fact that I'll never join TRTSM's intellectual elite. More KISS records and shitty WCW PPVs for me sez I.
 

Czech

Integral Poster
I've outgrown Klosterman. I had fun with a couple of his old essays, but that Beatles thing was terrible. I've seen worse music criticism, of course, but what was remarkable about it was that it wasn't from a blog. Someone approved it.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
Yeah, that essay wasn't very good.

Sgt. Pepper's is pretty good but I'm not sure why it's the seminal album of The Beatles catalogue let alone the '60s. Probably cause it was the album that happened to come out during the summer of love.
 

BUTT

Kreese
I'm not trying to beat the dead horse with the Beatles=boyband bullshit, but look at it this way. All those bands that came out in the last 10, 20 years were at one point or another brutalized for being nothing more than sugar coated pop crap. I'll be the first to admit that I enjoy some of it. However, I have never in my life heard a Beatles fan admit that the Beatles did EXACTLY what those same bands were/are doing, just 30 years prior to it. It's a huge double standard. They're proclaimed as Rock Gods when in reality, they were just the 60's version of New Kids On The Block (or, if you want to get into the "they played instruments" argument, Fall Out Boy).
 

Beast

Integral Poster
Bullshit. Calling the Beatles just another teeny bopper craze is ridiculous. Lennon and McCartney were constantly churning out unbelievable music that upped the game of the bands around them. Throw in Harrison and that's three of the greatest musicians of the past one hundred years in one band. Ringo's no slouch either. Fall Out Boy may have the same teenage following today that the Beatles had in the 60's, but their music will not be appreciated forty years from now. There is a reason the re-release of their albums is a big deal, because the music is actually very, very good.
 

BUTT

Kreese
The Beatles were a boyband with guitars. Yes they had some good songs, yes they played their own instruments, but that doesn't make up for the fact that they're put next to Jesus himself in so many people's lives. They're like a pretentious Jonas Brothers plus one. I feel that they are overrated due to the fact that many people are still blinded by their original discovery of the band, and feel that as fans they need to defend everything they've ever done. I just don't understand why people think that way. For instance, I love KISS, always have, but if you are going to tell me that Psycho Circus, or even going back to the glory days, Unmasked were good albums, I'd throw you in the loony bin myself.

Despite this, I'll chalk it up to "people like what they like". I like plenty of stuff that nobody else does, but I will agree that The Beatles get far more credit than what they may actually be worth.
 

King Kamala

Integral Poster
The boy band tag, IMHO at least, entails that they were manufactured from cradle to grave. The Beatles really weren't. I mean there's no question that they're somewhat overrated but no band could get the amount of hype and praise that The Beatles have been given. And that hype will forever irk the beejesus out of Beatles hating weirdos.
 
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